From The Blog

The Apocalypse Of Information, Episode 302

Here are a few interesting reads I’ve found between → Friday, July 4, 2014 to Thursday, July 17, 2014 ← that I think are worth reading. Enjoy… or not!!!

Trainspotting: My New Life Drawing Class | Link

Like the author, I spend a lot of time riding public transit while on my way to and from work. Unlike the author, I’ve never used my commute to commune with a sketchpad and record (interpret) the diversity of humanity riding the Metro. I read this article as an invitation to try incorporating sketching into my commute because I’m in agreement with the author. Too many people spend too much time on their phones. Does it matter that I can’t draw? Probably, but I don’t care. It’ll be a fun experiment to fill up a moleskin notebook with Metro-inspired stick(wo)man monstrosities!

Almost Half of The World Actually Prefers Instant Coffee | Link

Here’s an interesting article looking at coffee consumption around the world, and just as the graphs imply, like many Americans, I avoid instant coffee. But why, you ask? Because most of the instant coffee I’ve consumed tastes worse than something made from freshly ground whole beans. Also, I suspect many Americans like the social aspect of buying a cup of freshly ground brew at their favorite coffee spot.

Forget the Shortest Route Across a City; New Algorithm Finds the Most Beautiful | Link

A mix of algorithmic magic and crowdsourcing with an eye towards a common sense application, this article immediately forced me to consider other potential spin-offs. For example, a map that provides the the best route according to your health status (you could be sick, training for a marathon, sat in a chair all day, etc.), the most well-lit route, the least crowded route, the route best for Segway’s, or the route best for dog walking (i.e., there are trashcans for the dog poo, and dog parks).

Your Beer And Excise Taxes | Link

If you, like me, are a fan of beer, then you should consider reading this post. Don’t worry if you, like me, avoid a class of literature known as tax law (excise taxes, to be specific), because you’ll appreciate the way this tastefully brewed post explores the impact of excise taxes on one of your favorite gustatory hobbies. Prost!

Scientists Are Beginning to Figure Out Why Conservatives Are… Conservative | Link

This article is interesting because it introduces and discusses the results from a study (and the results from similar studies) that look at a little something something called “negativity bias”. In a nutshell, conservatives are physiologically more attuned to negative (threatening, disgusting) stimuli in their environment, and therefore act accordingly to mitigate any perceived threats or tingly feelings of disgust. Knowing this, political discussions at family holiday events… will probably be the same as they’ve always been.

Open Door User Testing | Link

As a curious person with many interests, I support this type of all-inclusive product exploration and development, as well as the team building inherent in the process.

Never Forgetting A Face | Link

As always, I’m concerned with the shifting intersection of cultural norms, privacy, and the quickening pace of technological development. I suspect that if this tech were to be widely adopted and heavily used by regular people (in addition to companies, government, and geeks), the legislative response would be reactionary. And not the good kind of reactionary. The kind of reactionary that motivates people and governments to avoid critical thought and compromise (and the accompanying gradual – productive and secure – shifting of norms) in favor of a bimodal partisan BS-curve.

In Fever Dreams Begin Irresponsibilities, Texas Edition | Link

If you’ve ever wondered what the Republican party of Texas is thinking, check out this article and… smile, cringe, or just follow the link provided to dig even deeper and… smile, cringe, or stoke the outrage of democracy.

Do Corporations Dream Of Human Gods?

<snark> Do corporations dream of human gods? Lawyer types can write and interpret the legal fiction however they’d like, but isn’t it about time they consider legal “science” fiction too? I mean, do androids/robots/AI dream of human gods? </snark>

<img src=”Slip ’n Slide” alt=”Supreme Court Justices and Lawyers Lined Up And Waiting Their Turn For Some Classic Summer Fun”>

…if only I could actually draw such an image! For the record, I’ve never read Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, at least not yet.

This Year In 4th Of July Fireworks (And Technology)

I don’t bother going to the National Mall to see the fireworks every year, mostly because it takes at least a few years to replenish my patience and reestablish a state of sanity after wandering through a miasma of tourist adjudicated red, white, and blue-tinted patriotism. That being said, when I do go to the National Mall to see the 4th of July fireworks, it’s usually awesome, and the 20 minute reward is worth the inconvenience.

Prior to this year’s show, the last time I saw fireworks in DC, I remember watching thousands of cameras flash in a futile attempt to capture the fireworks in the sky. This year, however, I didn’t see many cameras flash. What did I see instead? The glow of thousands of phones, tablets, and everything in between trying to capture and record the entire 4th of July fireworks show. There was a grandma recording the entire show on her tablet. There was a young boy recording everything on a dated DSLR. I was surrounded by people holding up a variety of smartphones recording the fireworks show.

I guess the best way to summarize this year’s 4th of July fireworks show is this – “Hey, NSA, don’t worry bout this one. America’s got it covered from every angle.

The Apocalypse Of Information, Episode 301

Here are a few articles I found during the week of → Friday, June 27, 2014 to Thursday, July 3, 2014 ← that I think are worth reading. Enjoy… or not!!!

Life Used To Begin At Ejaculation | Link

In response to the recent SCOTUS Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby decision, a lot of people are writing about contraception, abortion, abortifacients, religion, and morality. Here’s an interesting, snarky article that explores an asks, “When does life begin?”, within a historical context.

Study Finds 86% of Soldiers Spend Majority Of Career Standing Outside Connex | Link

If you’ve ever been in the military, chances are you’re gonna laugh – or at least smirk – after reading this. Oh, and in case you’re curious, this is basically The Onion for military types.

The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats | Link

Ok, I didn’t want to like this article, especially since the writer is so wealthy that I’m sure he owns at least one watch that is worth more than everything I own, but I did like the article, and I’m sure it’ll appeal to almost anybody who’s not a member of the I own my own jet and small island billionaire club. Also, the author lambasts trickle-down economics and the assumption that just because a person owns a smartphone, they can’t possibly be dangling from an economic cliff, looking down into fiscal despair. In any case, his candid discussion about implementing policies to uplift the middle class/lower class is spot on. The article also reminded me of Monty Python, and that’s good too.

The Big Lobotomy | Link

This piece argues that a massive brain drain – over many, many years – has effectively decimated the ability of Congress to do what it should be doing in an era/culture/technological environment of increasing complexity. By defunding and/or eliminating a variety of (bipartisan) positions within the Congressional infrastructure (think CRS, OTA, GAO), so the article argues, Congress lobotimized itself. The article blames Republicans, but I’m willing to reach across the divide and implicate Democrats for at least being complicit in supporting the Republicans nefarious plot to outsource all thinking to “think tanks” and “legal fiction” (i.e., corporations) and their not so fictitious lobbying groups.

Conservatives Don’t Deny Science Because They’re Ignorant. They Deny It Because Of Who They Are | Link

In a nutshell, it appears people prioritize and parse scientific studies (theories and information) through an ideological filter before using their logical, scientific literacy filter. This helps re/assert ideological identities, cause you know, humanity’s all about tribal groups… cue Seth Godin. If you’re feeling lazy or outraged, skip the reading part of the article and just look at the graphs.

I Spy Four Black Bears – Trail Notes #23

When most people get up in the morning and wander to the bathroom, I suspect they don’t run into a bear. Well, that just happened. Forget coffee, black. How about bear, black?

I tend to wake up with the sun whenever I go backcountry camping in Shenandoah National Park. With the sun’s rise the chatter of the forest swiftly changes from silent yawns to chirpy call signs, and it’s really an interesting thing to hear, especially when there are no sirens, or the sounds of traffic or constantly droning air-conditioning units. Ok, you could make an argument that the constant babbling of the Thorton River is a similar droning noise, but I don’t think so. I find it relaxing. I guess that’s why I’m standing on a few large rocks in the middle of the river, scribbling these words. I’m channeling my inner Henry David Thoreau.

My wife’s still in the tent sleeping – too much whisky last night? And our friends are still in their tent sleeping – too much whisky last night? Speaking of whisky, from my vantage point here in the river, there are two half-empty bottles of booze nestled between a few rocks and a rotting log. We didn’t put the booze in our bear bag, which is upstream and dangling from a branch about 50 meters away. We thought this was important.

BEAR!

Interrupted by a curious and/or hungry bear. Perhaps it’s rude that I just made a lot of noise and ruined the bear’s typical morning, but it clearly wasn’t too much noise because my wife and our friends are still wrapped in sleeping bags inside their tents. And I won’t lie, I did just bark out a loud, verbal repudiation of the bear’s behaviour as if the bear were my own dog.

“Bear, no. No! Noooooo. NO! Go lay down. Go away! Hey, go, get out of here. This food is not for you!”

Anyway, I hate to do this, but I was promised some trail pancakes, so it’s time to wake everybody up and fire up the jetboil. Besides, we’ve got another five miles to hike.

BEAR COUNT

1) tiny bear scurrying down a tree (Saturday afternoon)

2) large bear in/across the river (Sunday morning)

3) medium-large bear approaching bear bag. Spotted while writing on river rocks (Sunday morning)

4) large bear spotted near PATC hut (Sunday afternoon)

Total Hike – 8.5 Miles

Washington DC – The City Of Magnificent Distances

Some things never change, I suppose. At least, that’s what I took away from the following quote I nabbed from a “travel guide” published in 1901. True, your life may be full of splendour, but I think for the vast majority of DC residents, if we’re to trust the majority of economic studies regarding income disparity and housing costs, DC should be called the City of Infinite Distances.

[I placed three sentences in bold]

“We reached Washington at sundown. The last rays of the sun were striking on the massive dome of the great marble Capitol, and we were fairly fascinated. So grand a sight was it that all Washington seemed naturally to merge in the Capitol.

Washington is a unique city. The life-blood and sole vital principle of the place is politics, i.e., in the wide sense, as embracing not only the Legislative Assemblies, but also the various departmental functions of government. Many of the population are employees in these departments.

In no American city so much as in Washington do the magnificent and the mean stand in such striking juxtaposition. Close beside splendid Government buildings cower the paltriest of houses and the most miserable of shanties. Washington has well been named the City of Magnificent Distances. If the city can be filled up according to the present ambitious plan it has a future of splendour before it, and will vie with any European capital.”

This excerpt is from North America, Descriptive geographies from original sources, selected by F. D. Herbertson, ed. with introduction by A. J. Herbertson. London [Edinburgh, printed], A. and C. Black, 1901. The original source (i.e., the quote) is from E.B. Berry’s, The Other Side, published by Griffith and Farran.